AUCTIONEERS started bidding high and bids flowed freely at the 18th annual John Wells Memorial store sheep sale at Jerilderie, New South Wales on Friday.
Buyers from all points of the compass competed for an advertised yarding of 10,000 Merino ewes (9060 penned), pushing values to their highest point in the season.
All young ewe first-draft sales surpassed the $300/head threshold, topping at $382, while surplus-to-requirement 5.5 year-old ewes made to $262.
The market toppers and winners of the prestigious John Wells Memorial Shield were John Wells’ sister Caroline Heath and husband Craig.
Their 156 Willandra blood May/June 2019 drop ewes sold to Mark Flagg Agencies, Barellan, NSW.
The Wiraki ewes were also judged as the best-presented yard – a newly introduced tribute in memory of prominent local breeder, Mark Wettenhall, who lost his life in an on-farm accident earlier in the year.
His Cara Pty Ltd young ewes which were offered as the first pen of the day and made $362 a head. Wettenhall ewes were the winners of the previous two John Wells Memorial awards for the highest-priced young ewes at this annual event.
The sale was conducted by Elders as an open auction interfaced with AuctionsPlus. However, bidders participating via the online network appeared to have limited influence on the overall market result and secured just the one of the 42 catalogued lots.
Elders Jerilderie manager and auctioneer Nick Gray said the sale exceeded all expectations.
“We were quietly confident following the Hay sale that we would have a good day, but this result has been much better than was ever hoped.
“Strong price rises in the prime lamb market since that sale has definitely put the icing on the cake,” he said.
Veteran Merino stud breeder, Ross Wells from Willandra, said he was lost for words to describe the sale outcome.
“All I can say it was bloody fantastic,” he told Sheep Central.
“It’s the best result I’ve ever seen by far.
“We thought 2010 was good, but this has easily surpassed that,” he said.
However, when you think about it, Mr Wells said, it was simply supply and demand coming into play.
“Markets, especially from the meat side of the industry are very good and wool is reclaiming ground due to COVID-19, which is driving the demand.”
But on the other hand, Mr Wells said ewe supplies are extremely depleted because of the years of drought.
“And this saleyard in particular is a good example, as in the past it has regularly offered sales of 20,000 to 30,000 head two and three times a year, but this year only the one sale is likely and with half the numbers.”
The next best sale in the 2019 drop line-up was $368 for 225 Caroonboon blood ewes, bred at ‘Amaroo’, Conargo, by Michael Bull. The June/July drop ewes were snapped up by Elders Corowa, as was a second pen of the same breeding. They were trucked south to Kyneton, Victoria, to an Elders client.
Four other vendors to also achieve prices above the $354 peak at the Hay sale two weeks earlier, included Innesvale Pastoral ($374), The Yanko ($368), Cara Pastoral ($362) and Sleigh Pastoral ($360). These sales helped the young ewe yarding at Jerilderie to average $329/head.
An excited Michael Bull said he hadn’t previously sold any sheep with a leading figure of “3”.
“I was hoping for a price of $300-plus as it is extremely hard to value sheep these days.
“I do hope the buyers have success with their purchases at these prices,” he said.
Mr Bull said his Caroonboon blood flock has just weaned 139pc of lambs per joined ewe this breeding season.
It has been an exceptional season, he said.
“We’ve only had 312mm of rain for the year which is not a lot but it’s fallen at the right time with the best falls in April and August which was perfect timing.”
Sales of middle and mature-aged ewes were also strong at the Jerilderie sale and underpinned by an active processor presence.
Lines of 2018 and 2017 drop orange and white taggers made $285 and $252 a head respectively. Sales of black tagged ewes topped at $262 for a March shorn line of Willandra blood and bred ewes. Off-shears lines sold to restockers made from $210 to $242, with lines from Amaroo and Ivyholme sharing the top price.
Two yards of 2014 drop ewes sold at $190 a head to complete the sale. They weighed 73.2kgs and 74.9kgs liveweight respectively, and were loaded onto a Fletcher International truck bound for Dubbo at an estimated on-leg purchase cost of 575-590c/kg cwt.
Successful buyers of the all-ewe yarding were spread widely across the southern states, Agents from the Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton, Echuca and Bairnsdale areas filled the Victorian list. NSW regions represented included Corowa, Albury, Forbes, Wagga Wagga, Hay, Narrandera, Deniliquin and Finley.